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Four ways to get organized around the house this summer

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 24, 2010

We are a nation looking for help with our overabundance of stuff. So what better way to start out the summer than to target a few clutter-clogged zones in our homes and organize them?

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We've seen more self-help organizing books being written, according to Lauren Nemroff, senior editor of books for Amazon.com, ever since this category became popular in the prosperous 1990s. But interest exploded recently with the coverage of hoarders on shows such as "Oprah," and the steady stream of DIY cable series starring professional organizers.

"The current emphasis on organization and de-cluttering can also be seen as a psychological response to the economic downturn," Nemroff wrote in an e-mail. "Most people are looking to do more with less, and gain a sense of control over their lives and stuff."

Gretchen Rubin, author of the recent best-selling book "The Happiness Project," thinks living an orderly life definitely makes people happier. She follows lots of her own rules daily to ensure her surfaces are clean and her mementos are filed.

"In the context of a happy life, a messy coat closet should be trivial," said Rubin, who often blogs and tweets de-cluttering advice to her faithful. "But there is something about getting ahold of physical clutter that makes people feel energized, freer and happier. Order contributes to inner calm for most people."

To get you jump-started, we spoke to organizers about practical ways to tame four trouble spots in many homes: the junk drawer, hall closet, kids' school papers and photo storage. Check out their ideas to get motivated so by summer's end, you will be cleared out, sorted through and in control.

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